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ʿAdālat al-Ṣaḥāba: The Construction of a Religious Doctrine

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Abstract This article investigates the development of ʿadālat al-ṣaḥāba, a central doctrine in Sunnī orthodoxy that stresses the integrity of the Prophet Muḥammad’s Companions. The examination of relevant Sunnī works indicates that the doctrine crystalized in the 5th/11th century, by which time the basic tenets of the doctrine had been developed. These include, among other things, the definition of Companions and their essential role in securing the authenticity of Islam. Furthermore, it was around that time that medieval Sunnī scholars developed an epistemological—rather than a historical or theological—basis for the doctrine. Establishing the integrity of the Companions during the Prophet’s lifetime on the presumption of innocence that is further confirmed by textual evidence, they argued that good Muslims must continue to accept that integrity given the lack of conclusive evidence that they lost it at a later time, particularly when they participated in civil wars. I argue that this epistemological ground was furnished by Murğiʾism, as the examination of some Murğiʾī texts demonstrates. 1

Affiliations: 1: Qatar University


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